The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Girdles, or belts, were worn by both men and women in the Medieval period. From the mid-fifteenth century, fashionable women wore broad and short girdles like this one high on the ribcage, over a houppelande, a full-skirted, long-sleeved outer robe. Girdles owned by the wealthy were made of fine and costly fabrics and often embellished with silver or gold decorative fittings along their length. The elaborately-worked buckles and strap ends were usually decorated with enamels or niello, often with a family coat-of-arms and/or inscriptions. The textile used for this girdle incorporates gilded silver threads, and would have been woven by a single weaver working on a small tablet loom. The buckle and strap end appear to be gold, but in fact are gilded base metal, with applied plaques of enamelled and engraved silver. This is a rare example of a fifteenth-century cloth-of-gold girdle complete with its original mounts.

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  • Title: Girdle
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1445/1454
  • Location: Lucca
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 154.5 cm, Width: 6.6 cm woven textile, Length: 12 cm buckle, Width: 9.5 cm buckle at fastening point, Width: 7 cm buckle at point where it joins girdle, Length: 10 cm strap end from tip to point where it joins girdle, Depth: 0.6 cm back to front of strap end at flattest point, Depth: 2.2 cm strap end at widest point of cylindrical part
  • Medium: Tablet woven lampas with gilded and enamelled metal, nielloed silver and stamped brass

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